A maternal effect on queen production in honeybees

Hao Wei, Xu Jiang He, Chun Hua Liao, Xiao Bo Wu, Wu Jun Jiang, Bo Zhang, Lin Bin Zhou, Li Zhen Zhang, Andrew B. Barron, Zhi Jiang Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Influences from the mother on offspring phenotype, known as maternal effects, are an important cause of adaptive phenotypic plasticity [1, 2]. Eusocial insects show dramatic phenotypic plasticity with morphologically distinct reproductive (queen) and worker castes [3, 4]. The dominant paradigm for honeybees (Apis mellifera) is that castes are environmentally rather than genetically determined, with the environment and diet of young larvae causing caste differentiation [5–9]. A role for maternal effects has not been considered, but here we show that egg size also influences queen development. Queens laid significantly bigger eggs in the larger queen cells than in the worker cells. Eggs laid in queen cells (QE), laid in worker cells (WE), and 2-day old larvae from worker cells (2L) were transferred to artificial queen cells to be reared as queens in a standardized environment. Newly emerged adult queens from QE were heavier than those from the other two groups and had more ovarioles, indicating a consequence of egg size for adult queen morphology. Gene expression analyses identified several significantly differentially expressed genes between newly emerged queens from QE and those from the other groups. These included a disproportionate number of genes involved in hormonal signaling, body development, and immune pathways, which are key traits differing between queens and workers. That egg size influences emerging queen morphology and physiology and that queens lay larger eggs in queen cells demonstrate both a maternal effect on the expression of the queen phenotype and a more active role for the queen in gyne production than has been realized previously.

LanguageEnglish
Pages2208-2213
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Biology
Volume29
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2019

Fingerprint

maternal effect
queen insects
honey bees
Plasticity
Genes
queen cells
Physiology
Nutrition
Gene expression
Social Class
Eggs
Ovum
Larva
phenotypic plasticity
Artificial Cells
Phenotype
Maternal Inheritance
Bees
caste determination
Insects

Keywords

  • honey bees
  • maternal effect
  • egg size
  • queen quality
  • gene expression

Cite this

Wei, H., He, X. J., Liao, C. H., Wu, X. B., Jiang, W. J., Zhang, B., ... Zeng, Z. J. (2019). A maternal effect on queen production in honeybees. Current Biology, 29(13), 2208-2213. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.05.059
Wei, Hao ; He, Xu Jiang ; Liao, Chun Hua ; Wu, Xiao Bo ; Jiang, Wu Jun ; Zhang, Bo ; Zhou, Lin Bin ; Zhang, Li Zhen ; Barron, Andrew B. ; Zeng, Zhi Jiang. / A maternal effect on queen production in honeybees. In: Current Biology. 2019 ; Vol. 29, No. 13. pp. 2208-2213.
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Wei, H, He, XJ, Liao, CH, Wu, XB, Jiang, WJ, Zhang, B, Zhou, LB, Zhang, LZ, Barron, AB & Zeng, ZJ 2019, 'A maternal effect on queen production in honeybees', Current Biology, vol. 29, no. 13, pp. 2208-2213. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.05.059

A maternal effect on queen production in honeybees. / Wei, Hao; He, Xu Jiang; Liao, Chun Hua; Wu, Xiao Bo; Jiang, Wu Jun; Zhang, Bo; Zhou, Lin Bin; Zhang, Li Zhen; Barron, Andrew B.; Zeng, Zhi Jiang.

In: Current Biology, Vol. 29, No. 13, 08.07.2019, p. 2208-2213.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Wei H, He XJ, Liao CH, Wu XB, Jiang WJ, Zhang B et al. A maternal effect on queen production in honeybees. Current Biology. 2019 Jul 8;29(13):2208-2213. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.05.059